Wear Shoes: Flip-flops are great but can easily come off while tubing or get stuck in the mud if you have to disembark your tube for any reason. Most flip-flops float but not all, and if you take away only one thing from this article make sure it’s this – DON’T LITTER THE RIVER – on purpose or by accident so please be conscious of this at all times. Sturdy sandals that secure to your feet or an old pair of sneakers is the best option for footwear.
Sun Protection: Be sure to cover yourself in a high SPF sunscreen and bring more in case you need to re-apply. Sunglasses are a must and it’s a great idea to utilize some type of strap to secure them to your person – floating straps are even better. It’s also a pretty good idea to wear a hat that provides you some shade. And lastly, bring plenty of water to stay hydrated – it’s hot out there! Be smart about sun protection, and always remember rule #1 - DON’T LITTER THE RIVER.
Flotation Device: Get a good one. You’ll see all manner of floating apparatuses out there, but nothing spoils a fun float faster than a punctured tube or raft. Don’t forget that this is a river and in it are all manner of logs, sticks, rocks, surly geese, other floaters, and a various barrage of unknowns that could put an ill-timed hole in your fun. A quality tube like those rented by Tumalo Creek and Kayak at the Bend Park + Float are the best.
Side Note: The river gets VERY busy in the summer, even on weekdays, and you will bump into other tubers and things get pretty packed in the rapids sometimes. Be an ambassador of fun and good spirit to those you encounter, help each other out, and hopefully they will as well.
Personal Gear: Secure it! Sure it’s awesome to listen to tunes, take pictures of your friends, bring extra clothes, play paddle-board frisbee, whatever “floats your boat” - but you don’t want to loose your keys or wallet or phone or anything else, so secure your stuff (ideally in something waterproof and that will float), and always remember rule #1 - DON’T LITTER THE RIVER.
Life Vests: All children 12 and under are required to wear a Coast Guard Approved life-jacket. State law also requires that each boat or paddle-board carry at least one life saving device for each person aboard. A floatilla (several tubes lashed together) can be considered a boat – so best to play it safe.
Transportation: The majority of river-runners launch their journey from Riverbend Park and float all the way down to Drake Park (about 2 hrs.), which are also the main pick-up / drop-off points for the Bend Park + Float shuttle. If you have your own tube, and exact change, you can pay the driver $3 for your shuttle wristband and ride all day. For more info regarding the river shuttle click here. For info regarding tube rental click here.
Party Favors: Just so you’re aware! Local ordinances prohibit the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and/or marijuana on the river or in parks. Regardless of your decision, don’t forget rule #1 - DON’T LITTER THE RIVER OR THE PARKS.
The Rapids: For some, the best part of the float is traversing the rapids in the Bend Whitewater Park which is about mid-way on the full float, and just after the Colorado Ave. bridge. The rapids are fairly mild as far as river rapids go, but know this: you will get wet/soaked, your tube may flip over and dump you out, you may get stuck in the eddy and have to push yourself back into the current, and last but certainly not least, the rapids are made by rocks – rocks that generally hurt when you run into them regardless of which part of your body does the running into. Use caution while playing in the whitewater park. Discretionary cautions aside, the rapids are SO much fun and not really too hazardous.
Enjoy the Deschutes and the Bend Whitewater Park!!! For more information from Bend Parks & Rec click here.